A written statement to Parliament on 2 November announced a change in operating model for Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).

In 1993, the MoD agreed a government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) arrangement with Hunting-BRAE, with the latter operating AWE on behalf of the government. In 1999, following a competitive tender, a new 25-year contract was awarded to AWE Management Ltd (AWE ML).

On 1 July 2019 the MoD triggered the Successor Arrangements clause with AWE ML, to consider alternative management options ahead of the current contract expiration. Following an in-depth review, the MoD has concluded that AWE plc will become an Arms-Length Body, wholly owned by the MoD.

The change in model will remove the current commercial arrangements, enhancing MoD’s agility in future management of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, while also delivering on core MoD objectives and value for money to the taxpayer.

The decision was taken in order to simplify and further strengthen the relationship between the MoD and AWE plc, enhancing the Ministry’s ability to invest in workforce development, technology and infrastructure, and therefore in the future of AWE plc.

AWE manages development and installation of the nuclear warheads for Britain’s strategic nuclear deterrent, based on the TRIDENT II D-5 missile, seen here being test-fired from a US submarine. (Photo: US Navy)

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